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Aug. 31 saw Eminem surprise-drop a new album, Kamikaze. And while many were ecstatic to get new material from the famed rapper, several were upset to find homophobic language on the album, namely a use of the word “faggot” in reference to Tyler, the Creator on a track called “Fall.” Now, in a recently released on-camera interview with MTV News producer Sway, the homophobic Eminem lyric gets addressed, though the rapper stops short of an apology or even saying he regrets the lyric.
The “Fall” lyric in question was “Tyler create nothing, I see why you called yourself a faggot, bitch, it’s not just ’cause you lack attention, it’s ’cause you worship D12’s balls, you’re sack-religious.” Despite the word getting ‘bleeped’ on the track, its use was rather obvious, particularly when coupled with the “sack-religious” double entendre.
And to be clear, despite Tyler, the Creator not referring to himself as a “faggot” in his prior work, Tyler does identify as queer, and the word is one he’s used quite often, particularly on his 2011 album Goblin.
In this recently released Sway interview, the homophobic Eminem lyric gets addressed, with the rapper saying this about its use:
With the Tyler, the Creator thing, man, I realize now, and I realized when I said it, but I wasn’t, like, in the mind frame — I was angry when I said the shit about Tyler. … The word that I called him on the album — on that song — was one of the things where I felt like, this might be too far [the homophobic Eminem lyric, Sway clarifies].
Because in my quest to hurt him, I realized that I was hurting a lot of other people by saying it. And at the time I was so mad, it was just whatever. But in the midst of everything else that was going on with this album, and the things it took to pull this album together and all that kinda shit, it was one of the things that I kept going back to, going, ‘I don’t feel right with this.’
Before the album came out I had a conversation with Paul [Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager] and we spun the word back. But now I realize people can hear what I’m saying anyways.
The interview during which the homophobic Eminem lyric gets addressed (start at 12:30 mark):
A mature realization from Eminem
Despite there not being an outright apology during the on-camera intervierw, what gets said about the homophobic Eminem lyric on “Fall” is spot on, and it’s a mature realization that, as Eminem says, use of the word “faggot” on the track can’t be seen as just a diss on Tyler, the Creator. Use of the slur is problematic for a much larger group of people, namely all queer people, whom the word demeans.
When we allow use of that word to slide in any context, it legitimizes its use by those who seek to harm LGBTQ people, directly or indirectly. And that’s the case whether or not Eminem is a “homophobic” person. Even if the person who uses the slur isn’t a “homophobe,” that doesn’t negate the fact that the word itself is indeed homophobic.
Plenty of queer allies in the past (Alec Baldwin and Bette Midler, among many) have been criticized for using language unbecoming of an ally, and that’s exactly how it should be. It’s OK to have high expectations of those who seek to be queer allies. And the mark of a true ally is their understanding of the misstep and striving to do better in the future — not a high hurdle, truly.
Homophobic Eminem lyrics have been addressed countless times in the past
Back in 2013, during an interview with Rolling Stone, Eminem said he didn’t equate the word “faggot” with being gay but said he sees it “more like calling someone a bitch or a punk or asshole” (which, it must be said, is still a rather homophobic mindset). Still, the rapper insisted he “has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all. I’m glad we live in a time where it’s really starting to feel like people can live their lives and express themselves.”
In 2017, once again Eminem was forced to address accusations of homophobia, this time during a Vulture interview. “The honest-to-God truth is that … I have no issue with someone’s sexuality, religion, race, none of that,” he said. “Anyone who’s followed my music knows I’m against bullies — that’s why I hate that fucking bully Trump — and I hate the idea that a kid who’s gay might get shit for it.”
Here’s hoping the homophobic Eminem lyric used on his 2018 album Kamikaze puts the rapper’s use of homophobic slurs to rest — finally.